The weekend of teacher training was pretty inspiring for me. I am so pleased with the progress the group has made in three weekends and how strong their studentship and connection to one another is. It is a very cool process to be a part of. We worked a lot with sequencing strategies, incorporating heart based themes into alignment instructions, developing themes from poems, stories and such and also we began diving into observation and adjustments. And as any of you know who have taken a Level 1 Teacher Training before, the first rule of observation is to to look for the good.
We spent some time in exercises which focused on looking for the good in ourselves, and also looking for the good in others and articulating very clearly what good we saw in ourselves, in one another and then we took it into looking for the good in the asanas. This is always really strong work.
G'Nell shared with the group and with me that in her training as a special ed teacher she has learn (and trains other teachers to do this also) that for every " one prompt" she gives a a student she is most effective when she gives "two praises." We talked about this a little bit about how that might translate into the yoga classroom situation and how we might actually create a positive reinforcement cycle in the classroom through praise and acknowledgement rather than just putting on a critical hat for the whole time we teach yoga and telling our students what not to do and how to correct their poses, etc.
Also we have a few tender moments together really exploring the various reasons why it is difficult to hear "the good stuff" about ourselves and how hard it can be to receive praise and to take it in and allow ourselves to believe it. I think for many people, this is some of the hardest yoga they are called to do.
It made me think a lot about how transformational it was for me the first time I was in a class with John Friend. I had been used to being taught by very exacting yoga teachers with very high standards (not complaining. I am grateful for that also. I really am. A lot of what I know about yoga I learned from these teachers and so it was not all bad by any means.) so back to the story. The "first class" I was in with John Friend was actually a 5-day intensive and so it was no casual encounter. And having been used to criticism and "lots of things to do to make my pose better" I was expecting him to follow in suit. Instead, he just kept telling me things like, "Wow, great pose" or "You are so beautiful" and so forth and I couldn't handle it at all. I cried the entire 30 hours. (Okay, that is a slight- but only slight- exaggeration.) Still, the point is that somehow about hearing a compliment was more confrontational to me than hearing a criticism.
So, for the long, extended story about this buy my book Yoga From the Inside Out- but really, I have been thinking a lot about why I actually love teaching Anusara Yoga and it has a lot to do with the fact as Anusara Yoga teachers, we engage a process of looking for the good and standing for it in ourselves and one another.
I think it is so easy to get caught up in negativity, criticism, skepticism and condemnation of self, others or even culture, etc. That's pretty easy. Without trying, we can wander down that road in one moment and many times get rewarded for our pessimism as though we are somehow very "cool and hip" for being so jaded. We get habituated to that kind of outlook and reaction to ourselves and to life.(But that's another story) My point is that we get all that for free.
What costs us a bit more is optimism, faith, hope and the willingness to forgive imperfections enough to see the underlying beauty, intention and possibility that Life is offering us in each moment. Looking for the Good is not simplistic new-age approach to life that denies suffering, cruelty or washes over our responsibility or accountability in the world of relationships. It is, to me, a willingness and a coommitment to take a stand for the Light. In a world - be it our inner world where our various demons may be haunting us or the outer world where oil is spilling into the Gulf and every moment a helpless creature is suffering as their eco- system is being contaminated- where the darkness is present and despair and cynicism are the easy road to take, Looking for The Good is a commitment to look for the presence of the Light and to assert the presence of Grace in the midst of what appears ugly, painful, and even atrocious. Looking for the Good is, in my opinion, a daring outlook to adopt and to practice.
And so we can start small, by looking for and recognizing what is good within ourselves. That is the primary homework I gave my group for the month before we meet again. Every day, for 3-5 minutes, write without stopping about what is good about you. I told them I would do it also and we would compare notes about how it went. Feel free to adopt the practice for yourself this month and join in on this part of the journey.
Oh- and speaking of a journey you might want to join, I am beginning another online mentor group in the beginning of July. If you want some details, visit my website under teacher development. www.christinasell.com. There is a flyer and application you can download from there.
Okay. Bed time.